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Talking 10 Mailbag: Are the Minnesota Gophers a Big Ten title contender?

Welcome to the talking10 weekly mailbag. Every week we’ll answer fan and journalist questions from around the Big Ten — no team, no topic is off-limits (including your food & beverage questions). If you want your question answered, get ahold of us on Twitter @Talking_10, Facebook or send us an e-mail to talkingbig10@gmail.com. 

As the month of October draws to a close things are getting strange out West and exactly like we thought they would in the East. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the questions that come to us this week center on the wild, wild West division.

So, let’s get to our questions, shall we?

First come from our Twitter follower @CB9921….who asked and then erased this gem:

What are the chances MINN wins the West Division? Also, is David Cobb the running everyone should know but don’t?

We’ll take up the last part first…despite missing the word “back” in running back, we’ll assume that’s what Chris meant. As for Cobb, he is easily the most underrated and least talked about back in the Big Ten. He also happens to be that way because he’s not a flashy back and the workhorse that makes the Gophers go.

Nothing about the Gophers attack is sexy, but that doesn’t matter to Kill, Cobb or anyone else on that offense because they are the only team who can point to its formula making them undefeated in the Big Ten West.

Individually, Cobb is the fourth of the four Big Ten backs over the 1,000-yard mark and the one with the most carries (189). That’s part of Cobb’s problem with getting the attention over Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman and Melvin Gordon — the other three are big time home run threats and he isn’t flashy.

Cobb is great, but this is 2014 and you need to be legendarily great to get noticed among this field. No shame in being in the company of Abdullah, Coleman and Gordon.

For part one of the question, I don’t like the Minnesota Gophers chances of winning the Big Ten West because of the schedule it has coming up. Don’t get me wrong, a 3-0 start is amazing, and they keep finding ways to win games, which is important.

However, there is very little to like after Illinois this week. Minnesota has a final four slate of vs. Iowa, vs. Ohio State, at Nebraska and at Wisconsin. That’s a murderers row of Big Ten teams for the West division and a visit from an Ohio State team coming off an interesting game against Michigan State.

Let’s put it this way about the Gophers — I’ll be ready to believe they are contenders when they beat someone who matters in the Big Ten. Minnesota is likely to have to win over Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin…and that’s a tall order.

 

Our next question comes from colleague @KevinOnCFB:

Well, Kevin came out swinging for the fences on the question front. A quick consult from the Twitterverse tells us Vegas doesn’t like Nebraska’s chances in the least.

Vegas odds are for betting purposes, but let’s concentrate on the reality of what needs to happen on the field. The problem for Nebraska and the legion of Husker fans that will travel wherever this team goes is Vegas is dead on in its odds.

See, Nebraska isn’t in control of its own destiny after the loss to Michigan State earlier this month. Instead it is going to need a ton of help to make its case for the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Nebraska doesn’t have a non-conference win it can hang its hat on, and its one regular season loss so far is on the road to Michigan State. It’s also a final score that looks better than what actually happened on the field that day too.

That means the Huskers need a few dancing partners to show up to help them out. So, the Huskers need to rely on help from Minnesota being a team the CFP committee respect and Wisconsin getting itself back in the mix as a Top 25 team.

If Nebraska can get past these schools, and do so in impressive fashion then its Big Ten Championship game matchup could be the deciding factor. As long as Ohio State or Michigan State come in as undefeated, they’ll give a huge boost to the Huskers chances.

The biggest problem is in how the Huskers’ schedule and loss will be seen by the selection committee, not to mention what else is happening around college football.

Simply put, there are way too many variables in play for the Huskers to be in control of their own destiny, even with a Big Ten title and 12 wins in a row at that point.

 

That does it for the mailbag this week. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook and subscribe on YouTube. Future mailbags may be of the visual variety. 

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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